Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Knowledge

Last night I gave a little talk to the youth in our church about the importance of knowledge. I thought I'd share it:

I grew up in Provo. My high school was right across the street from BYU, after high school I went to BYU, so nearly every day for 8 years I drove past the entrance signs at the university that says, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.” And “The World is our Campus.”

Those are pretty cool slogans. But I always thought of them as specific to only BYU students. I have come to realize though, that it is true of all of us born to this earth (even Ute fans. I was totally kidding there. I’m more of a Ute fan than I let on). We came to earth to learn and gain knowledge. With that knowledge we can serve and help others. Our learning is not limited to classrooms and church buildings. The world is our campus—we can seek learning from all good sources.

In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read, “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;

79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—

80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.

We each have a mission on this earth. Some of us will become teachers. Some of us will become missionaries. Some of us will become doctors and nurses. Some of us will become writers, scientists, or engineers. Some of us will become Young Women’s Presidents or Sunbeam teachers. Many of us will become mothers. Whatever it is that we will become, we will need knowledge to help us in our work.

Brigham Young said, “Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind, has been given by direct revelation from God. … We should take advantage of all these great discoveries … and give to our children the benefit of every branch of useful knowledge, to prepare them to step forward and efficiently do their part in the great work” (Deseret News, 22 Oct. 1862, 129).

We will find it difficult to rise to our true potential without both spiritual and secular knowledge.

I have seen the importance of education over and over again in my life. As a missionary I was grateful to my parents and young women leaders who had helped me gain a testimony and take part in gospel teaching—the spiritual knowledge I had made it possible for me to share it with others. The experiences I had on my mission have changed my life forever. When I was in college studying to become a teacher—I felt impressed many times that teaching would be a great part of my mission in life, giving me the opportunity to have a positive impact on Heavenly Father’s children. I don’t know how I could fulfill that calling if I had not always taken my education seriously and been to college to earn my teaching degree. As a mother I am grateful for the knowledge I gained and the experience I had babysitting my cousins, niece and nephews, and neighbors. I am grateful for the knowledge I have of the importance of the family in God’s plan. I am grateful for the Relief Society and it’s purpose of educating and supporting mothers in their important role.

Joseph Smith taught “whatever principle of intelligence we attain … in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” During challenging times, it is even more important to learn. The Prophet Joseph taught, “Knowledge does away with darkness, [anxiety], and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is.”

Education is one of greatest investments you will ever make, helping you to be an influence for good in the world. Remember, you have entered this world to learn, so that you can go forth to serve.

8 comments:

Kati said...

Did I tell you how much I LOVED THIS talk??? I loved the BYU slogans and they tied everything in so nicely! You have an amazing way with words and can connect with these amazing young women in an incredible way that penetrates their (and my) hearts. BUT it isn't just your words, it all comes from your heart and you do such a great job reaching out to these girls--- heart to heart. Great job on your talk:)

I do have to add--- because I always have more to add--- I generally HATE when people talk about knowlegde in every way, shape and form because usually the speaker talks all about their wonderful and glorious degree and that is what knowledge is. I DO NOT HAVE A DEGREE and that seems to be all they matters. Therefore I end up feeling stupid- literally. I am not stupid, I have learned much from life. As I recall from one of your previous posts, you loved your new dentist because you didn't leave his office feeling like a "walking cavity." (beautiful visual that I will always remember) That is exactly how I feel. I didn't feel like a "walking cavity" after your talk. It was enjoyable to listen to and it gave me the desire to continue to grow in my leanings, wherever I may be in life. To enter to learn and go forth to serve! :)

Dan said...

I really liked your last line. It was powerful and it summed it all up very nicely.

Sometimes I wonder if there is more I need to do with the things I have learned. I wonder if I am passing up on opportunities to help other people or to teach myself more. Do other people feel that way too?

jwise said...

Oh, excellent!!! That was very well done! :)

Yeah, Dan, I wonder that sometimes, too. I'm preparing a YW lesson right now with the scripture from 1 Timothy: "Neglect not the gift that is in you," and it's really causing me to reflect on gifts, talents, knowledge, etc., and how I'm using it. I'm coming to the conclusion that much of it is given or shared little by little--teaching moments with kids, or fulfilling your callings. It's a tough question to wrestle with, though.

K said...

I want to say to Kati—I used to tell my children, HEavenly Father gave you the gift of your lively intelligence, and why? Because he wants you to work for him. Not because he wants people to be impressed with you. You are blessed with tools, not to make you an important member of the community, but to be the servant of the community. On earth, we have all these things backwards.

Women have not helped their own cause sometimes in the past - at least, when I was young, women chose to go on missions basically because they had nothing else going on in their lives. And that attitude, after the sixties, began to show up in the matters of marriage and motherhood.

And it's bunk. I have a BA, went through most of a MA program, which I dumped because I had finally landed the teaching job I was after in the first place. I worked, first as a TA in grad school, then as a high school teacher during a five year period.

Then I had my own kids. This family is the greatest creative project I ever dreamed of taking on. It required and used to the fullest every talent, every shred of knowledge - ad more importantly, what wisdom I had drawn from the basic principles I'd learned through literature, science, mathematics - every shred of my brain was exercised in the bringing up of the children.

But you have to understand that those principles abound freely in the world around us, and the wisest person is the one who has been learning without all the school hoop-la from the very beginning. The person whose mind and heart are engaged in life, learning from every experience. Especially those who are blessed with the marvelous gift of wonder.

There are no professors or tests for this kind of wisdom. Only life itself, which sometimes is harsh with us when we are not paying attention and applying what we've learned. "Not working to her potential" can mean a very tough life and tons of missed opportunities.

Stupidity is only found in those who turn their backs on the important principles that allow us to be effective servants - mothers, friends, partners. When we throw our own short-term desires in the way of true usefulness, the true ability to love unfeigned and whole-heartedly - and thus, the ability to teach and serve - we are useless. Worse than unprofitable servants.

Don't let the labels of the world decide who you are. When we had our hearth built years ago, the brick mason was an older man who had never been to college, but who knew TONS about the service of African American soldiers in the civil war. He knew as much as any PhD about the subject. And we sat close while he worked and told us the stories. I learned more from him than from any history class I ever took. And it was only because he simply loved and pursued that bit of knowledge completely on his own.

I'm not saying this right because I'm still asleep. Human beings love labels they can attach to themselves, mostly because without those labels, they, themselves, aren't really sure who they are. The wisest and most useful among us don't bother with that; they go straight to love and service instead.

Megan's talk was beautiful. Megan is beautiful. And Kati - so are you.

Tigersue said...

My favorite thing is to learn. I feel like my mind never stops sometimes. Knowledge is much more than a formal education, we never stop the capacity to learn. Even with dementia we continue to learn, about life, kindness, love, charity, you name it. Knowledge is a sum of our experience in life, not what the brain remembers in this mortal sphere.

Kati said...

Holy cow! Who is this "K" person???? She totally ROCKS!!! Thanks K! I have been having more inward battles right now then I have ever had before and I really appreciate all your wisdom. It is just wonderful! I may just cut out that last line, put it on my wall then get to work following your advice! Thanks again K!

Ginna said...

Lovely Megs. I would've liked to have been there to hear that talk. It's so nice that we have friends that can bouy us up and inspire us, isn't it?
And I agree with all my mom's points too. Such a complicated life this is, don't you think?

K said...

Kati - you can write me any old time you want to.

Ginna - the irony is that, without all the human influences, life is actually pretty simple. We are the masters of drama. And we're the ones who kick up the mud, crossing the stream.

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